True Story

Last Books of Summer, and a Didion Documentary

Welcome to September, fellow readers. Fall is a big season in publishing, and this year is not exception… my list of new releases for September is about a mile long. But before we get into that, I want to peek back on a couple of summer releases I didn’t get to feature yet, share some news from women writers, and feature a few book lists to add to your already toppling TBR. Let’s get into it!

Sponsored by Endeavour Press

500 years before the Vikings and a millenia before Columbus, an Irish monk set sail westward on the Atlantic, in search of the Garden of Eden.

Acclaimed travel writer, Tim Severin, sets out on the same voyage using identical equipment that St Brendan describes in his sixth century account. This classic of modern exploration has been translated into 27 languages – find out why in this gripping book.

New Releases on My Radar

Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo — I don’t know how this book didn’t get my attention when it came out earlier this summer. After her college graduation, Michelle Kuo arrived in rural Arkansas as a Teach for America volunteer. This book is about her relationship with one student, Patrick, who was jailed for murder after Kuo finished her teaching assignment. Kuo returns to Arkansas to mentor Patrick as he waits for his trial to brgin. There’s been some buzz about this one on the Book Riot back channels, all really good.

Bonus Read: Kuo answered five questions about the book for the New York Times.

A Woman’s Place is at the Top by Hannah Kimberley —  I’ve never heard of Annie Smith Peck, which is such a shame. A scholar, lecturer, educator, writer, and suffragist, Peck was also a daring mountain climber who became famous after climbing Matterhorn (scandalously, in pants!) in 1895. Hannah Kimberley began researching Peck for her PhD, and brings a wealth of new sources to the book. This one sounds exciting!

Bonus Read: The Sierra Club has a brief story on the book with some comments from the author.

To Siri with Love by Judith Newman — In this book, journalist Judith Newman writes about her 13-year-old autistic son, Gus, and his relationship with his iPhone’s virtual assistant, Siri. Newman explores how technology can help those who are struggling to find their voice, and what life is like for families trying to help an autistic child make their way in the world.

Bonus Read: This isn’t related to the book, but I thought it was funny. In 2014, Newman wrote about her odyssey to get an author page published on Wikipedia.

Photo by Julian Wasser, courtesy of Netflix

Netflix to Release Joan Didion Documentary

I am so in for this one. Netflix will be releasing a documentary on journalism legend Joan Didion on October 27. Titled Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, the film is being directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne, who called it “a true labor of love.” Joan Didion is basically too cool for this world, I hope I can channel some of that just by watching the movie.

Excerpts from What Happened Released

Hillary Clinton released an excerpt from her upcoming memoir, What Happened, that I think just about any woman can relate too. In the excerpt, Clinton shares what she was thinking during the second presidential debate, when Donald Trump spent a good chunk of the town hall looming over her shoulder. I remember being viscerally uncomfortable during that time, and it sounds like Clinton was too:

“It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’”

If you can’t get enough of post-2016 election books, another one to look for in early September is Unbelievable by NBC News correspondent Katy Tur. You may recall that Tur was repeatedly targeted by Trump and, at one point, had to be escorted to her car by Secret Service agents after being called out at a rally.

Book Lists to Topple Your TBR

I love a good book list. Here are a few I’ve come across lately:

On My Nightstand

I’m in the middle of two books right now: Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun and Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick.

Calhoun’s book is an expansion of a Modern Life essay by the same name, and looks at the complexities of marriage. Instead of thinking of a wedding as the end of a love story, Calhoun treats it like the first chapter in a bigger story that will have its own challenges and beautiful moments. I thought a lot about my own relationships while reading this one.

Black Flags is… less cheerful than that. I can see why the book, a chronicle of the rise of ISIS from a prison in Jordan to the major force it is today, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize. The narrative and storytelling are very strong, and it’s really drawing me into this complex and terrible world.

And that’s all I’ve got for this week, aside from some exciting news to share. Beginning this month, True Story will be going to a weekly newsletter, so look for me in your inbox again next Friday. You can reach me on Twitter @kimthedork or via email at Happy reading!

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Sept 1

Happy Friday, ghouls and galactic invaders! Today we’re talking Persona and Cast in Shadow, plus A Discovery of Witches casting, fantasy paraphernalia, and more.

Sponsored by All Rights Reserved, the chilling new YA science fiction story from Gregory Scott Katsoulis. Check out the video trailer here!

All Rights ReservedFrom the moment she turns fifteen, Speth Jime must pay for every word she speaks. She knows the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words she’s unable to afford.

But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she discovers she has no way to speak out without sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than say anything at all, she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again.

Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

Do you need more stories for your ears? Here’s a very solid list of 13 sci-fi/fantasy audiobooks (including many you’ll recognize as Book Riot favorites).

Genre fiction is full of magical pets, and Yaika has a few favorites in particular from the comics world. (Lying Cat!)

What beer would you pair with Octavia Butler’s Dawn? Alex has thoughts on this and several other excellent sf/f book and brew pairings.

In TV news, the adaptation of Discovery of Witches has cast its leads! Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) will play vampire hero Matthew Clairmont, and Teresa Palmer (who I’m not familiar with) will play Diana Bishop. The show starts filming this fall, so there’s a good while to wait yet to see how well they pull it off.

And in the most meta adaptation news of ever, there will soon be Galaxy Quest: The TV Show. By Grabthar’s Hammer, I have so many questions. Is the plot the “actors” remaking the “TV show”? Will Tony Shalhoub be back? Please excuse me while I take a moment to salute Alan Rickman.

And finally: do you need a Westeros beer-cap map? Or a Narnia infinity scarf? Or any number of other fantasy-maps-inspired items?!

Today’s reviews include a near-future political thriller and a fantasy procedural, because what’s not to love about genre mash-ups?

Persona by Genevieve Valentine

cover of Persona by Genevieve ValentineIf you crossed America’s Next Top Model with the United Nations, you’d get something like the International Assembly. Delegates called Faces, selected based on their general attractiveness and media appeal, appear to be ambassadors for their country and the wheelers and dealers of international policy. In reality, it’s their handlers who pull the strings and dictate, well, everything. What legislation get passed, what they wear, who they have relationships with — you name it, it’s supervised by the people behind the scenes. Our heroine Suyana is the Face for the United Amazonia Rainforest Confederation, and someone is trying to murder her.

Part near-future meditation on paparazzi and politics and part thriller, Persona reads a bit like a fever-dream in some parts. As Suyana struggles to figure out who she can trust and why she’s being targeted, we also start to understand that she’s far more than a clothes-horse and pretty face, and that she might be behind a conspiracy of her own. The timeline flashes back and forth between her present, on the run, and the events that led her to that present. It’s fast-paced, well-plotted, and the world-building is twisted just enough from our actual world to be eerie as well as familiar. Bonus: the sequel, Icon, is now out in paperback! Further bonus: if the Next Top Model, clothes-horse part of that particularly speaks to you, Valentine does amazing red carpet recaps on her blog.

Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

cover of Cast in Shadow by Michelle SagaraWe talked a bit about urban fantasy in a previous newsletter, and it reminded me that Cast In Shadow is an alternate-world urban fantasy, which is an interesting piece of overlap to contemplate.

Kaylin is part of the police force, or Hawks, of the city of Elantra. She grew up rough (VERY rough), fled from her past, and changed her name, and while her manners and attitude aren’t much, she’s made a name and a place for herself. Her major worries are hiding her magical abilities from people who don’t need to know about them (so, basically, everyone) and trying to be on time for her shift, until a string of child-murders in her old neighborhood come to light. The method and MO are the same as murders that went unsolved when she was young, and now she has to figure out who is doing it — and what it has to do with her.

The world-building of Elantra is intricate and many-layered. There are actual hawk-people, dragon-people, and lion-people in addition to human-people; there are competing organizations; there are political machinations afoot. And then there are Kaylin’s own twisted history and complicated personal relationships, past and current. It’s a lot to take in, but Sagara juggles it well — and this is just the first in a 10+ book series, with the 13th book due out in January of 2018. If you’re looking to dive into a new fantasy series with a cranky, lovable, frequently violent heroine and a whole lot of details to get lost in, you’ll want to give this one a whirl.

That’s a wrap: Happy reading! If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

May the Force be with you,

The Goods 2

Introducing LIT CHAT: Conversation Starters about Books and Life

It’s a big day here at the Riot! We’ve been working on this for a while and are so thrilled to introduce you to LIT CHAT, conversation starter cards for book lovers.

Preorder yours by 10/3 and get a free READ sticker.

So, what is it?

Each of the 50 cards in this conversation deck is printed with two reading-themed questions (100 questions total). Some invoke books that are tied to memories (name your favorite childhood picture book); others prompt you to choose ideal reading material for a hypothetical situation (if you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you want with you?). Some of them aim to get people comparing their favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters or authors, and others engage in popular debates amongst readers (name a movie adaptation you liked and defend your choice). Created to give readers of all persuasions an excuse to talk about books, ideas, and life itself, this deck is a great addition to any booklover’s shelf.

Preorder your LIT CHAT now!

Riot Rundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller.

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sal Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.


Badass Women in Politics

Hello audiobook friends!

Last week was *very* exciting for me. WHY, you ask? Because two excerpts of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new audiobook, What Happened, (WHICH SHE NARRATES) were released. I have been an HRC superfan for a very, very long time. (I get it, not everyone agrees with me, I don’t wanna fight, I just want to say HOW EXCITED I AM FOR THIS BOOK). If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the excerpts, you can do that here.

Sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio

Help your children keep up with their reading by listening to audiobooks. Visit for suggested listens and for a free audiobook download of MY FATHER’s DRAGON!

In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of badass women politicians. (No, I don’t agree with all of these women on everything, but they’re all accomplished and impressive, all the more so because of the heavily male political scene).

There are several women I wanted to include on this list, but their books don’t have audio versions. Specifically, Shirley Chisholm, Kamala Harris, and Cynthia McKinney. All of these successful Black women have books that haven’t made it to audio. Perhaps that needs to change, like, yesterday.

Awesome Women Politician Book List

(*Publishers’ description in quotes)

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeleine Albright

The first woman secretary of state takes the reader from “from the Bohemian capital’s thousand-year-old castle to the bomb shelters of London, from the desolate prison ghetto of TerezÍn to the highest councils of European and American government.” Through her memories of her family and childhood, Albright tells a story of grave struggles and fierce perseverance.

Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile

This is kind of mean of me because this book won’t be out until November 7th. But damn if I am not dying to read it. Not just because Brazile herself was a casualty of the DNC email hack but also because she’s a brilliant political mind.

It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton

The OG HRC book. Clinton has long been an advocate for children, specifically in the areas of healthcare and education. From the publisher: “Her long experience has strengthened her conviction that how children develop and what they need to succeed are inextricably entwined with the society in which they live and how well it sustains and supports its families and individuals. In other words, it takes a village to raise a child.” Not from the publisher, from Katie, “Love you forever Hillz! If you’re looking for a best friend I *am* available.”

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Technically Supreme Court justices aren’t politicians, but they exist in the political realm and there are a couple of badass justices I’m just not going to leave off of the list. RBG is the very top of that list. Even if I didn’t personally admire her (which I do), her story is really impressive. Additionally, if you want some short but informative background info on RBG, check out this episode of the Baby Geniuses podcast. It features comedian Guy Branum, who gives an entertaining summary of Ginsburg’s’ rise to Supreme Court Justice-hood.

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

The third woman appointed to the Supreme Court (and the first Hispanic person) she “recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.” Winner of several Audie awards, My Beloved World is narrated by the great Rita Moreno.

Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O’Connor

This was a really excellent listen–-for precisely the same reason I was hesitant to listen to it. Sandra Day O’Connor’s name has always been synonymous with “deciding vote in Bush v. Gore” in my mind. The decision process (and her thoughts about it some 10 years after the fact) was fascinating to hear. Though the other stories O’Connor recounts are less controversial than Bush v. Gore, the whole book is worth a listen if you are a politics and law nerd.

Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom by Condoleezza Rice

Unlike many of the other books on this list, this title is more about politics than it is about the politician. Rice explores the various struggles for democracy across the globe and draws on her experience as a policymaker when offering her insights.

Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt

You know, Eleanor Roosevelt…of every inspirational quote ever? An advocate for human rights and those in need, Roosevelt had a distinguished legacy during her husband’s life and after. Following her husband’s death, “she became a U.N. Delegate, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, a newspaper columnist, Democratic party activist, world-traveler, and diplomat devoted to the ideas of liberty and human rights.”

This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren

The fact that Warren spent years writing and lecturing persuasively as a professor might have something to with how well researched and articulate this book is. Warren describes how the middle class flourished in the wake of the New Deal and began to shrink during the Reagan years. “Now, with the election of Donald Trump–a con artist who promised to drain the swamp of special interests and then surrounded himself with billionaires and lobbyists–the middle class is being pushed ever closer to collapse.”

New Release of the Week

How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb

This book sounds excellent but even if it didn’t, all I would have to tell you is J.K Rowling said the following, “Quite simply brilliant. I (genuinely) cried. I (genuinely) laughed out loud. It’s profound, touching, personal yet universal. I loved it.” and you’d be sold, right? Me too. Here’s what the publisher said, “Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes (on girls and boys) to discovering the power of making people laugh (in the Cambridge Footlights with David Mitchell), and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, Robert Webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, How Not to Be a Boy explores the relationships that made Robert who he is as a man, the lessons we learn as sons and daughters, and the understanding that sometimes you aren’t the Luke Skywalker of your life – you’re actually Darth Vader.”

Links for Your Ears from Book Riot:

How Audiobooks Made Me Appreciate Nonfiction

One reader was skeptical about audiobooks until she tried listening to nonfiction. (I definitely relate to this. I’ve always enjoyed both fiction and nonfiction on audio but I realized how much more information I retain when I listen to NF on audio as opposed to reading it.)

The 25 Best Children’s Audiobooks

Looking for audiobooks for kids? Look no further than this list of 25 of the best children’s audiobooks out there, including classic and contemporary books!

Thoughts? Feelings? Hit me up on Twitter at msmacb.

Until next week,


The Goods

New Totes & Pouches

You’ve bought the books. You’ve stocked up on glorious new school supplies. Now you need the perfect bag. We’ve got you covered with awesome new totes and pouches, featuring 1984, “When in doubt, go to the library,” and more.


Win a Copy of THE MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller!


We have 10 copies of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller to give away to 10 Riot readers!

Here’s what it’s all about:

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sal Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

Go here for a chance to win, or just click the cover image below. Good luck!

Unusual Suspects

Just a Ton of Mystery/Thriller Reading Recommendations

Hello my fellow mystery fans! Let’s end August with a ton of mystery books!

Sponsored by Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima—the third Timber Creek K-9 Mystery from Crooked Lane Books.

Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student, until they find the girl dead on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school. But before they can catch the killer, another child goes missing―and this time it’s one of Cole Walker’s daughters.

Knowing that each hour a child remains missing lessens the probability of finding her alive, Mattie and Robo lead the hunt while Cole and community volunteers join in the search. It seems that someone has snatched all trace of the Walker girl from their midst. Grasping at straws, Mattie and Robo follow a phoned-in tip into the dense forest, where they hope to find a trace of the girl’s scent and rescue her alive. But when Robo does catch her scent, it leads them to information that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case.

Great Procedural With A Bit of Horror:

I Know a Secret (Rizzoli & Isles #12) by Tess Gerritsen: Rizzoli and Isles–a detective and medical examiner–are perplexed with their recent victim: she’s dead (seeing as she’s holding her eyeballs), but there doesn’t appear to be a clear cause of death. Has an unhinged fan killed a horror movie creator and staged it to look like a scene? Or is there much more to this case?–hint: much more! Also mixed in with the mystery solving are Rizzoli and Isles current personal lives, mostly family issues. If you’ve only watched the show, the characters’ personal lives are different in the books (which I love because it allows me to read and watch while being comforted by the similarities in the personalities, but getting fresh stories/plots). Gerritsen does a great job writing her series (and Rizzoli & Isles, who are very different, while having a great relationship) where you can jump in here and not feel “lost.” And if the personal issues make you want to know more of what you missed, then you can decide to start at the beginning. (A great Little Q&A with Tess Gerritsen.)

Over on Book Riot a guide to Nancy Drew readalikes and a Sherlock edition Book Fetish.

While you wait for the second book in the Lady Sherlock series to release next week (it’s SO GOOD I LOVE IT!) here’s a stand-alone short story set in the universe: Charlotte Holmes and the Locked Box.

Marcia Clark is developing a series for ABC that may sound really familiar because it sounds a lot like her life! (Will 100% watch!)

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown will be adapted.

The adaptation of Stephen King’s suspense novel Gerald’s Game will premiere on Netflix on September 29th.

All the Trigger Warnings: Fantastic Mystery That Explores Trauma and Living With Grief

The Good Daughterthe good daughter cover image: silhouette of a woman holding up a lit match by Karin Slaughter: I cracked this novel open right before bed and ten minutes later felt like I’d been running for my life and was going to have a heart attack. And this continued to happen to me randomly throughout the book because Slaughter explores violent crimes and trauma with writing that places you right there with the characters.

The novel begins by introducing you to the Quinn family, who have just had to move because their home was burned down by someone angry with their father who is a criminal lawyer–the kind of lawyer who represents rapists/murderers. And then the family is attacked, destroying their world. Almost thirty years later, Charlie, the youngest daughter, finds herself in another violent tragedy. Still living in the small town she grew up in, things really hit the fan when her father decides to represent the person accused of the crime Charlie just witnessed. This event dredges up the tragedy Charlie survived as a child, and as much as she wants to forget it, she’s now about to relive it. The characters have so much depth, the mystery has plenty of twists, the lawyering scenes are excellent, and there are tiny bursts of humor throughout that perfectly deflate the tension, making clear Slaughter is a gifted writer.

A Park Police Officer and A Crime Scene Investigator Make a Perfect Team:

The Weight of Night image cover: a forest fire The Weight of Night (Glacier Mystery #3) by Christine Carbo: Gretchen Larson (a crime scene investigator) and Monty Harris (a park police officer) work together to try and recover human remains found near Montana’s Glacier National Park. Problem is there’s a raging fire that firefighters have been working to put out, so Larson can’t treat this with the care a crime scene needs—they literally need to get what they can and run! Told from alternating point of view between Larson and Harris, this procedural takes you through the case as they try to identify the remains and also find a boy who was camping with his family and disappeared. Both Larson and Harris have past traumas they carry, while Larson also has a sleeping disorder she keeps hidden and refuses to get close to anyone because of it. Great read for fans of procedurals who are looking for a new setting.

More Books Recently Released Because What’s a TBR For if It’s Not About to Explode:

The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun, Sora Kim-Russell (Translation) (Slow-burn suspense)

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka (I love novels that give both YA and Adult POV)

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Liberty Hardy loved and reviewed)

Atlanta Noir edited by Tayari Jones (Currently reading: almost had to sleep with the lights on after the first, super good, story!)

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent (Seeing this one mentioned a lot.)

A Thousand Cuts (Spike Sanguinetti #5) by Thomas Mogford (Thriller set in Gibraltar)

Death By His Grace cover image: blue background with graphic design images of priest clothes, bride and groom, and DashikiDeath by His Grace (Darko Dawson #5) by Kwei Quartey (Really enjoyed.)

On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service (Her Royal Spyness #11) by Rhys Bowen (Historical mystery)

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström, Michael Gallagher (Translation) (Sounds interesting.)

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes (Looking forward to reading this one!)

The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter (Enjoying reading this series that’s like a Sherlockian fantasy!)

Normandy Gold #3 by Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Steve Scott, Lovern Kindzierski, Claudia Ianniciello (Detective goes “undercover” as an escort to find out what happened to her sister.)

Snap Judgment (Samantha Brinkman, #3) by Marcia Clark (My review of the 1st two in the series)

Glass Houses (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny (Latest in this great series!)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And if you like to put a pin in things here’s an Unusual Suspects board.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.


Behind The Scenes Aug pt 2

How is it almost September? Congratulations are in order for our August Mailbag winners: Susan, our Novel subscriber, and Katherine, our Epic subscriber. Happy reading! As a refresher: if you’re a Novel subscriber and you’ve updated your Watchlist in the last 30 days you’re automatically entered into the drawing, so keep an eye on those New Releases. For Epic, any/all Epic-level subscribers are eligible, so keep on keepin’ on.

In today’s installment of Behind the Scenes, our Art Director Scott is back with a look at some of the designs that never made it off the drafting table — and why!

First up is an alternate take on the Book Riot Insiders logo. I liked the idea of having the door stand in as the letter “I” to create a sense of intrigue, mystery, and surprise that only Insiders would be privy to. Version A is where I started and while I am actually pretty happy with the result a few issues stood out, the main one being that the width of the door compared to the width of the other letters is pretty severe. In version B I tried to using a typeface that had more heft to it, to better complement the ‘heaviness’ of the door. There are 16 characters in Book Riot Insiders, and using just one of them to create a visual pun means that I’m using 1/16th of the logo’s real estate, which in turn means that the door gets muddled at smaller sizes. In the end we opted for the sans-cutesy, cleaner, more streamlined version that has fewer complications attached to it.

alternative version of the Book Riot Insiders logo

Next up is an alternate design for the Reading Trumps Ignorance t-shirt. I sort of knew that this one was going to be problematic from the get-go, but sometimes when you have an idea you just need to see it through, see where it ends up. While the concept of bouncing books off the face of the President was cathartic and fun to execute, at the end of the day I knew that the number of people that would want to wear a shirt with his face on it would not really make it viable.

alternate version of the Reading Trumps Ignorance shirt

And here we have an alternate design for the Nolite te bastardes carborundorum shirt. When this task came to me I knew I wanted to focus on repetition of the text, like a mantra that someone repeats over and over. I felt like this design succeeded in creating a pseudo-hypnotic, visually striking composition, but where it falls a bit short is that in the repetition you sacrifice some of the immediate impact and boldness of the saying.

alternate version of the nolite te bastardes shirt

Lastly we have the design that never saw the light of day for an “ugly holiday sweater” Book Riot style. The problem with novelty designs is pretty inherent and we pulled the plug on this one before it could take flight.

[Jenn’s note: I still want this sweater.]

ugly sweater design that says Season's Readings and includes knitted-looking skulls, reindeer, a book, and snowmen

While not my intention, there was apparently some room for interpretation as to the motives of the reindeers in this motif. To be fair, Rebecca was merely the messenger for this request, but nonetheless I leave you with the most bizarre piece of feedback that I have ever received on a design:

Note from Rebecca that says: "Hey Scott - can the reindeer hooves be revised so no one is confused about them giving the finger?"



Riot Rundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr.

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

For the Hempsteads summers were idyllic at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. Until the summer that changed everything.

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. But one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.